July 13, 2011 – IT departments see business value in the growing consumer devices trend and are supporting it, but security and support issues are creating a heavy workload, according to new research by IDC.

The research is based on responses from nearly 2,660 information workers who use smartphones, tablets, laptops, notebooks and other PCs for work and 560 IT department executives and managers in nine countries, and was commissioned by Unisys Corporation, an IT company.

Enterprise IT departments are unprepared for the growing use of consumer technologies in the workplace, and what IDC calls the “consumerization gap” is widening. Up 10 percent from last year, 40 percent of the devices workers use to access business applications are personally owned.

Overall, 70 percent of the IT executives surveyed rated their organizations as late or “last to use” adopters of new technology.

When asked what are the greatest barriers to enabling employees to use personal devices at work, 83 percent of IT respondents cite security concerns. Constrained resources are a barrier as well; 80 percent of IT reported their department workload is growing from consumerization.

IT departments appear to be overwhelmed by the flood of consumer technologies into the enterprise. In the study, IT executives gave themselves only 2.9 on a one-to-five scale for supporting consumer devices and applications in the workplace.

“Too many IT executives are acting as custodians of the status quo, not as the innovators they need to be for their enterprises to benefit fully from consumerization of IT,” says Frank Gens, chief analyst, IDC.

“CIOs should rebalance their build versus buy strategies: cloud and managed services providers are providing support for the latest devices faster than most IT shops can, so they may help IT groups avoid reinventing the wheel,” offers Gens.

The IDC research suggests IT executives and departments should take proactive steps to serve the needs of increasingly mobile customers. With better visibility into the consumer devices and social applications that employees want to use for work, Gens says, companies can devise flexible policies for managing and securing devices, opening up a new range of business opportunities.

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